Darkminds #1-6 (of 8)
[Image Comics $2.50 US $4.00 CAN]
Written by Adrian Tsang & Pat Lee / Pencils by Pat Lee / Inks by Pat Lee, Alvin Lee, Alan Tam
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Darkminds #2I picked this series up because from the first solicitations in Previews I thought it looked interesting. An American-style manga story set in a cyberpunk future complete with hardboiled cop and beautiful cyborg female cop. I mean, how many times has this formula been played across the Japanese animation screen? Many times to answer my own question for those of you who aren’t conversant in Anime SF conventions. But, sucker that I am, it never ceases to hook me.

Darkminds really reads like a manga in that the panels are big, the dialogue is sparse and the story is short. The character designs are decent, however and unlike a lot of action-oriented manga there are backgrounds. On the downside the backgrounds are obscured by muddy coloring. I know they’re trying to set a dark, edgy mood and most of the action seems to take place at night but come on, lighten it up just a little bit. The coloring in issue #4 was particularly distracting.

The world of Darkminds is set in the future, 2032 to be exact, in the city of Macropolis. Something called Paradox has been killing people with a body count in the double digits. Agents Nagawa (cynical but cute) and Nakiko (the beautiful, busty cyborg with an expertise in “psionic investigation”—which basically means she gets information out of dead people’s brains) are picked to work together on the investigation. I did find some horrible spelling errors in issue #1 but I’m guessing they invested in a spellcheck program because I didn’t notice any more errors after “embelizm” for embolism and “pickels” for pickles.

A subplot involves Agent Nakiko and who she was in a previous life. A bunch of bikers (the Neon Dragons) capture her and Nagawa because she bears more than a passing resemblance to a missing friend of theirs. Nakiko gets the photo and has a friend do some digging in the files of Aurora Industries (creators of the technology that makes Nakiko possible). Of course, she runs into security barriers. Someone (a seemingly powerful someone) at Atlas Industries (yet another mega technology corporation) likes that information hidden. Hence in a conspiratorial twist, Nagawa and Nakiko get framed for the Paradox murders and end up on the run.

This series started out strong but after reading 6 issues of Darkminds I’m ready to call it quits. I don’t care enough about the characters, the writing is corny, the story poorly paced and the muddy artwork is driving me batty. If I hadn’t been so lax about reading the issues I probably would have quit after #3. But that’s what I get for reading too many comics. If you find Darkminds in a quarter box at some future date, by all means give it a try. But I don’t recommend plopping down $2.50 an issue for it right now.

Darkminds should be available at your local comic shop or you can write them c/o Darkminds Archives, P.O. Box 87528, 300 John Street, Thornhill, Ontario Canada L3T 7R3. You can also check out their web site at www.dreamwaveprod.com.